Tomorrow starts the annual Portsmouth Invitational Tournament (PIT) for college seniors. Once one of the premier pre-NBA Draft opportunities for players and NBA executives/scouts alike, the PIT has become an afterthought in the draft scheme. 64 players are invited, and those who are almost guaranteed to get drafted, decline quickly. Once they are replaced, you then have another group, usually players from the second tier, who withdraw, citing any number of reasons.
Of the 64 left (see complete list of players here, and team rosters here), there are probably anywhere from 2-6 draft picks here who are looking to solidify their position in the late first or second round (see Jimmy Butler or Andrew Goudelock last year - both performed well and were drafted in the expected range.) The rest of the players are left to use this as an audition for Summer League spot with a NBA team, or if they are lucky, a pre-draft workout with a team. That’s not to say there isn’t talent here, but with the games amounting to nothing more than glorified pick-up games, the style of play is conducive to a select few in the field. Scouts have seen the large majority of these players over the last 4 years and have a good grasp on their abilities in real game situations.
Here are 6 players to watch these next couple of days and what they can do to enhance their prospects of being drafted or getting a further look by NBA teams.
Chace Stanback – F- UNLV – 6’8, 215 – Stanback is extremely athletic, but prefers to play on the perimeter where he was one of the best 3-point shooters in college this past season. He needs to do a better job as a perimeter defender, as well as rebounding on both ends.
What to watch for: The pace of PIT games should work well for Stanback. Look for him to get out in transition and set up on the wings doing what he does best, draining threes.
Jarrod Jones – F- Ball State – 6’9, 234 – Jones is a strong, athletic player who can play in the post and has developed a nice perimeter shot to keep defenders off-balance. An excellent rebounder, Jones still needs to show that he can guard stronger players in the post, as well as defending on the perimeter.
What to watch for: Jones should be able to average a double-double in the PIT while showing his growing versatility on the offensive end. One of the few players who I think can actually improve his standing dramatically here.
Kim English – G- Missouri – 6’6, 200 – English was the heart and soul of the Missouri squad this season, and though he played out of position most of the year, he still found ways to make a difference on both ends of the court. A very good shooter who is strong enough to take the ball to the rim, English becomes even more attractive to teams with his ability to guard multiple positions and his understanding of the game.
What to watch for: Like Stanback, the pace of these games will be right up English’s alley, but everyone will be watching to see just how good he can be when he gets to move back to his natural position. A solid pick for MVP of the PIT.
Alex Young – G- IUPUI – 6’6, 212 – Young is one of the top scorers in the country, and he has the ability to put up points in a variety of ways. He is a very good ballhandler for his size, and he is well-advanced in running the pick and roll on offense. Defensively, he needs to do a better job with positioning, but he should eventually be able to guard 2 positions at the next level.
What to watch for: I think the best way for Young to stand out in this game is to actually not shoot as much as he is used to. Versatility is what stands out with Young, and if he can show that he can defend and rebound, teams will find a role for him.
Jordan Theodore – G- Seton Hall – 6’0, 174 – Theodore is a quick point guard who relies on getting into the lane and drawing the defense to create openings for his team. Offensively, he is not good enough to be a factor in the NBA, but he is an excellent on-ball defender and can be a pest the length of the court.
What to watch for: Theodore needs to show that he can run the pick and roll better than he did in college, as well as showing that he can hit the open jumper consistently. If he does this, he will get a prime spot in the D League next year.
Henry Sims – F- Georgetown – 6’10, 232 – Sims showed improvement in every area of his game this year – from developing a post offense, becoming a stronger rebounder, and being a great passer out of the high post in Georgetown’s offense. Defensively, while he improved, it wasn’t quite up to the improvement on the offensive end.
What to watch for: Sims is the type of big man who can actually do well in the PIT due to his ability to operate as a facilitator all over the court. He also moves well for his size and should be able to score plenty in fast-paced games here.
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